I believe I am an unwitting subject in a psychological experiment taking place at my office. Some of you firmslaves may have heard of the “Food from the Bar” program that the Capital Area Food Bank sponsors in the spring. Law firms compete to raise money for the summer lunch program that feeds kids in the city who rely on school lunches and otherwise don’t get to eat in the summer. My firm is raising money by, among other things, staffing a snack cart that roams the halls twice a day and sells exorbitantly priced granola bars and doritos. It has changed my life.
The snack cart has become the top priority of my day. I watch the clock and make sure to take no bathroom breaks when the snack cart is making rounds for fear of missing it. I debate keeping my phone off the hook until it arrives, for fear of it passing over someone who looks too busy. When I hear the little bell ring as it rounds the corner to my hallway I have a Pavlovian reaction much the way a small child reacts upon hearing the plinking music of an ice cream truck. But to an unempowered child, the ice cream truck might be the only available source of ice cream in a day. I am not similarly situated. I could take my same two dollars and buy an entire family size bag of doritos at the CVS one block from my office and just chow down, but I never do. Instead I much prefer the joyous experience of spending that money on a tiny little bag of doritos from a mail cart decorated with curling ribbon. So much so that I plan my day around it.
I need to know that I am not crazy. That there is some well-accepted psychological reward phenomenon at work here that affects all normally-wired people. As such, poker tonight will feature a change in snacking. Instead of one bag of chips that we all pass around, we will offer a variety pack of mini chip bags. In a basket. Decorated with curling ribbon. You will kvell. Be at [——] at 8pm to get the best mini chip selection. All you need to bring is $10 for buy-in. And RSVP so I know whether we need one chip variety pack or two.